Michele Campagnaro: Exeter's Italy centre nearing early fitness return
Exeter centre Michele Campagnaro could return to action within the next month.
The Italy international, 24, has missed the entire season so far after injuring knee ligaments in the summer, but could now be fit for the Six Nations.
"He's battled through, he's ahead of schedule. Sometimes these can take up to nine months, but we're thinking way down on that," Exeter head coach Ali Hepher told BBC Sport.
"He's out there running about, so all the signs are promising."
Hepher added: "He won't be right into it in the first week of January, but hopefully as we get into the new year he'll start appearing."
Campagnaro has played just 26 times since joining Exeter in the summer of 2015 - he missed the start of last season with a hamstring injury while he injured his shoulder while paying for Italy in this year's Six Nations.
"He brings physicality, he's an exceptionally strong carrier on the ball, and then defensively he's aggressive, he can compete hard at the breakdown," added Hepher.
"He has big moments in big games, which we've seen in the past and I'm sure we will do in the future."